Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Research Methodologies: Quantitative or Qualitative?

There has been a long-time debate among researchers about the superiority of one method over another while many hold the opinion that one precedes the other and they work in concert. Poggenpoel, Myburgh, Van Der Linde (2001) compare and contrast the two methodologies. “The quantitative paradigm is based on positivism which takes scientific explanation to be nomothetic (i.e. based on universal laws.) Its main aims are to objectively measure the social world, to test hypotheses and to predict and control human behavior. In contrast, the qualitative paradigm stems from an antipositivistic, interpretive approach, is idiographic, thus holistic in nature, and the main aim is to understand social life and the meaning that people attach to everyday life” (Poggenpoel, 2001, p. 2). From this researcher’s view it seems that while both are important to the process of knowledge expansion and contribution, qualitative strikes more of an organic, grass-roots note while quantitative is more a result of hard facts rather than soft data, more mechanical, but that must first be rooted in the ground before numbers can be assigned. It seems rather like things cannot be quantified until they are first qualified. The end result of all research is the development of theories regardless of the process. Theories are extrapolated out of the data and the method whether qualitative or quantitative. “A theory refers to a set of concepts; definitions, assumptions and principles interrelated to each other” (Poggenpoel et. al., 2001, p. 4). The word “assumptions” is completely open to individual interpretation which seems to be some of the argument against qualitative methods because they are open to bias, assumptions, and interpretation. Clearly, when they are each taken apart and viewed by the sum of their parts, they each are open to the same potential hazards. The two methods are not in opposition of one another; instead they complement one another and become two parts of a whole, establishing a greater depth and breadth to results and findings establishing stronger theories for application and practice.

Poggenpoel, M., Myburgh, C.P.H., & Van Der Linde, C.H. (2001). Qualitative research strategies as prerequisite for quantitative strategies. Education; Winter 2001, Vol. 122, Iss. 2. Retrieved May 7, 2009 from EBSCOhost Database.

1 comment:

Professor Guerrero said...

I love your writing. Very enlightening indeed!